School district’s business manager resigns

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer July 01, 2014 08:01 pm

The Brookings-Harbor School District has another major vacancy to fill — Business Manager Don Sweeney has resigned to take a similar position in the Rogue Valley.

It’s the latest in a a series of resignations for the struggling school district.

“I appreciate Don and all the work he’s done for the district,” said board member Bruce Raleigh on Monday.

Board member Katherine Johnson added, “Because of his expertise, he found money we didn’t even know we had. He helped us get the new (classroom) curriculum and with union negotiations. It’s important that we find someone with similar financial background.”

Sweeney’s resignation came less than a week after he helped the district successfully negotiate a new contract with the teachers’ union, which is expected to ratify the three-year agreement sometime this week.

“I am not leaving Brookings in a bitter way,” Sweeney told the board Monday. “I’m very concerned about the district and I’m hoping for a smooth transition.”

Although his new job started July 1, the business manager said he made arrangements with his employer — the Rogue River School District — to return to Brookings as needed this summer to work for the district, interview potential candidates for his position and train his replacement.

Sweeney estimated he would spend 10 to 15 days this summer coming to Brookings.

He proposed the district pay him a salary rate of $500, $136 per trip for mileage and, if necessary, pay $80 per night for a hotel room. If he did any work for the district at home, he would charge $40 an hour.

The board agreed that it would be cheaper to pay approximately $636 a day for each day that Sweeney spends working in Brookings instead of going it alone to interview, hire and train his replacement. 

Sweeney, who started working in Brookings in 2011, said that he originally planned to stay for three years. During that time,  Sweeney has commuted from Central Point to Brookings, often living in an apartment here. During that time he has driven his car more than 100,000 miles, he said. He also has family in the Rogue Valley.

Resignations and new hires

The school board on Monday accepted the resignations from the following staff members:

•Nelson Goranson, social studies teacher at Brookings Harbor High School;

•Tammy Coffey, ESL coordinator for the district.

The school board approved the hiring of the following staff members:

 •James Doyle, language arts teacher at Brookings Harbor High School;

•Susan Hillesland, life skills teacher at the high school;

•Kirin Malik, special education teacher at Azalea Middle School;

Heidi Van Domelen-Warren, teacher at Kalmiopsis Elementary School;

•Dawn Bennett, TOSA PLC coach at Kalmiopsis;

•Drew Carter, counselor at the high school;

•Michelle Mitchell-Foust, math teacher at the high school.